Today's News: Our Take


ON THE MEND

Luther Vandross is showing signs of recovery. The Grammy-winning singer — who suffered a stroke last Wednesday — has been "extremely responsive over the course of the last day," a hospital rep tells The Associated Press. read more

NO SURPRISE HERE

Carmen Rasmusen's performance of "Love Will Lead You Back" led a majority of American Idol's 21.5 million call-in-voters to send the 18-year-old back to pop's minor leagues. As expected, Rasmusen became the latest AI finalist to get the hook on Fox's talent competition last night. Rounding out the bottom three were Trenyce and Joshua Gracin. And just a reminder: If you have any burning questions for Ms. Rasmusen, send them to me via the link at the bottom of this column. Extra consideration will be given to those folks who say hello to my Aunt Joan in their e-mail. read more

HE WRITES THE SONGS

Barry Manilow will be presented with the Society of Singers' 12th annual ELLA Award Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif. That's great, but who on Earth is this Mandy chick? read more

MATRIX MADNESS

Warner Bros. will release a special IMAX version of The Matrix Reloaded on Nov. 5, the same day the third installment, The Matrix Revolutions, opens. Meanwhile, Reloaded will hit theaters at 10 pm on May 14, a day ahead of schedule. read more

WHISTLING DIXIE

Embattled Dixie Chick Natalie Maines is addressing the controversy surrounding comments she made at a March 10 concert in which she told a London audience that, "We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." She says she spoke out against Bush and war in Iraq out of frustration. "I'm not truly embarrassed that, you know, President Bush is from my state," Maines says in an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer for Primetime Thursday (airing tonight at 10 pm/ET). "It was the wrong wording with genuine emotion and questions and concern behind it. ... Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don't follow? No." Am I sick to death of this story? Yes. read more

WHAT'S COOKING?

ABC Family has ordered 13 episodes of The Domestic Goddess Hour, a food-centric reality show starring Roseanne. According to Variety, the series is a spinoff of her upcoming untitled ABC reality series, which debuts in July. read more

KATIE'S NEXT MOVE

Katie Holmes has chosen her first post-Dawson's Creek project. The actress has signed on to star in the Forest Whitaker-directed romantic comedy First Daughter. She'll play the daughter of the U.S. president who goes to college and falls for a dashing graduate student. She later discovers that her crush has a secret agenda: He's obsessed with girls who look like Joey Potter. read more

SHOT IN THE HEART

NBC has fired what could be a fatal bullet into Just Shoot Me. Following a deadly ratings performance Tuesday, the network has pulled the aging sitcom from its schedule and is holding 13 unaired episodes until summer, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Now, exec producer Steve Levitan is firing back, claiming Peacock President Jeff Zucker broke his word. "Jeff Zucker promised our cast that [NBC] would not pull us and they would be airing these episodes. Now it's clear to me his word meant nothing." This story does, however, have a happy ending: Just Shoot Me is no longer on the air. read more

Latina Bombshell Defies Stereotypes


When Univision TV personality Sofia Vergara was cast as blonde bombshell Cici in Chasing Papi, she had her reservations. At first glance, she thought playing a vivacious, big-haired Charo wannabe would only serve to reinforce stereotypes. But with her over-the-top comedic antics, the Colombian native says she made something more of her role as the leader of a trio of women in love with the same man.

"It concerned me a little bit," she explains to TV Guide Online, "this cheesy Latin, who's loud, with the cleavage. Then you realize she really is the brains of the whole operation. But of course, she is a caricature."

The brunette spreads herself thin as a VJ, a model, a single mother and the founder of a charity for Colombian children. None of these careers even closely resembles her original, rather non-stereotypical ambition: "To tell you the truth, my plan was to be a dentist," she laughs. "I studied [dentistry] for three years in Colombia. read more

AI's Kimberly Caldwell Speaks!

Say what you want about American Idol finalist Kimberly Caldwell, but girlfriend acted like a true pro during the three-month-long competish. Despite everything that was thrown her way — Simon's theme-park barbs, Julia's hissy fits, Paula's corny good-luck charms — the 21-year-old Texan was a vision of grace and humility. And although Caldwell didn't capture the title, she did walk away with a rather nifty consolation prize: boyfriend J.D. Adams. That may explain why the onetime Star Search finalist was in such a chipper mood when she phoned TV Guide Online Tuesday afternoon to dish about all things Idol.
TV Guide Online: What have your emotions been like since last Wednesday?
Kimberly Caldwell:
There's a lot of anxiety, but I don't see getting voted off necessarily as a bad thing. I look at it as a new beginning, and I'm excited about getting started on my own career.

TVGO: Everyone believes the read more

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